|This issue was originally printed on grey paper.|
Table of Contents
FEDERAL COURT ISSUES INJUNCTION AGAINST CONNECTICUT PRIMARY BALLOT ACCESS LAW
On July 23, U.S. District Court Judge Peter Dorsey, a Reagan appointee, ruled that two Connecticut laws on primary ballot access law are probably unconstitutional. He forbade the state from enforcing them. Campbell v Bysiewicz, 3:02cv488. Courts may only grant an injunction (in constitutional cases) when the law is likely to be held unconstitutional; the judge said this standard has been met. A final decision as to the law's constitutionality will come later.
One law forbids anyone from circulating a petition unless the circulator is qualified to vote for the candidate whose petition is being circulated. This functions as a severe residency requirement for circulators.
The other law limits primary ballot access only to candidates who have at least 15% support at party endorsement conventions. Candidates who have that support are automatically put on the primary ballot. Otherwise, they cannot gain a place on the primary ballot; there is no petition procedure for them. For federal office, the records showed that only one candidate, seeking to run in a primary against an incumbent, had ever managed to overcome this hurdle in the last 47 years. Judge Dorsey wrote that this history shows the procedure is overly burdensome.
On July 24, the state asked the 2nd circuit for a stay of the ruling. Although the legislature is in session, it is a special session and can only deal with the budget. Therefore, the legislature can't amend the laws until next year.
When the state appeals, the Democratic and Republican Parties will intervene in the case on the side of the state. They will argue that they approve of restrictions on ballot access for their own primaries, and in fact have By-laws that mirror the state law. However, this argument had already been made by the state, so it isn't likely to alter the outcome.
Connecticut only provides a primary election for parties that polled 20% of the last gubernatorial vote, so minor parties aren't affected by the part of the ruling striking down the 15% endorsement hurdle. However, minor party and independent candidates will benefit from the other part of the decision, the part striking down restrictions on who may circulate a petition.
Plaintiffs had also attacked the law on the alternate grounds that the existing law already provides that candidates may petition their way onto the primary ballot for town and city office. Even stranger, they may also petition in state legislative districts comprising only a single town (but not other legislative districts). Therefore, the law gives voters in single-town legislative districts more voting power, than voters who live in multi-town districts. However, the judge did not discuss this argument.
MORE LAWSUITS ON WHO MAY CIRCULATE
Some of the few remaining places that still try to insist that petition circulators must be residents of the district for which they are petitioning, are being sued:
1. District of Columbia: the Board of Elections is about to file a lawsuit, asking that a D.C. law be declared unconstitutional. The law says only registered voters in D.C. may circulate candidate petitions. The Board thinks the law is unconstitutional and wants the matter settled. The result may determine whether incumbent Mayor Anthony Williams can run for re-election in the Democratic primary. Otherwise his petition probably lacks the 2,000 valid signatures needed.
2. Wisconsin: the Constitution Party is about to file a lawsuit in federal court to overturn this state's restrictions on who may circulate a candidate petition.
MINNESOTA INDEPENDENCE PARTY GAINS TWO SENATORS
On June 27, former Congressman Tim Penny declared that he will seek the Independence Party's nomination for Governor of Minnesota. Penny was a Democrat in Congress, but he was always supportive of minor parties. He had repeatedly introduced bills in Congress to outlaw restrictive ballot access, and to expand participation in presidential debates.
Penny did more than just declare his candidacy. He had also been busy, recruiting other former major party legislators to join the Independence Party. On July 9, two Republican State Senators declared that they are joining the Independence Party. One of them, Martha Robertson, will be Penny's Lieutenant Governor running mate. The other, Sheila Kiscaden, will run for re-election as the Independence Party nominee. The Independence Party already had one State Senator, so now it has three.
In addition, Representative Dale Swapinski, elected as a Democrat, joined the party on July 13. Also, two former legislators are running this year as Independence Party legislative nominees. They are Edwina Garcia, who was the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's nominee for Secretary of State in 1998; and Art Seaberg, a 5-term Republican.
A poll published at the end of June showed 25% support for Penny in this November's gubernatorial race, compared to 26% for the likely Republican nominee and 25% for the likely Democratic nominee. The primary is in September.
There have been only two instances since World War II at which a group of incumbent state legislators left the major parties and joined a minor party: this instance, and an instance in 1991 when four New Hampshire legislators joined the Libertarian Party.
The Arizona Constitution says that registered independents have a right to vote in the primary of any qualified party. This provision is the subject of two lawsuits by minor parties:
1. Libertarian Party: one of the state's three qualified parties, doesn't want independents voting in its primary, so it filed a federal lawsuit against the law. That lawsuit has a hearing on August 1 in Tucson.
2. Green Party: is not qualified in the state, but it is qualified in Pima and Coconino Counties, but only for county office (not federal or state office). Elections officials are permitting registered Greens to vote in the primary of their choice (Democratic, Republican or Libertarian) if they don't live in Pima or Coconino Counties. But Greens in those two counties can't vote in the primaries of the three state-qualified parties. And they can't vote in any Green primary for federal or state office either, since there is no such primary. Some Green voters in those two counties sued so as to vote in the primary of another party, but lost on July 5. They are appealing. Bolger v Pima Co. Bd. of Supervisors, c2:00-23026.
OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS
1. Alabama: another federal lawsuit has been filed against the state, for altering the independent candidate petition deadline at the last minute (the deadline was changed from July to early June, on May 27!). Both lawsuits allege the change cannot be implemented this year. The new lawsuit is Campbell v Bennett, 02-T-784-N, Montgomery.
2. Dist. of Columbia: on May 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that leafleting must be permitted on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Lederman v U.S., 291 F 3d 36.
3. Florida: on July 18, U.S. District Court Judge James King upheld the state's ban on voting by ex-felons. Johnson v Bush, 00-3542-cv, Miami. Plaintiffs are appealing. This is a difficult lawsuit for plaintiffs, since in 1974 the U.S. Supreme Court said that section 2 of the 14th amendment authorizes states to ban such voting.
4. Georgia: on July 26, a hearing was held in Parker v Barnes, 1:02-cv-1883, before U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Martin, a Clinton appointee. Several Libertarian Party congressional candidates are asking for either more time, or a lower number of signatures, on the grounds that the district boundaries weren't known until April. The normal petitioning period starts in February.
5. Louisiana: on June 21, the State Supreme Court upheld a law prohibiting employees of casinos from making campaign contributions. Casino Assn v State, 02-CA-265.
6. New Mexico: on July 24, Russell Means filed a lawsuit to be placed on the ballot as the gubernatorial candidate of the Independent Coalition Party. Means v State of New Mexico, cv02-883-PJK. The party is ballot-qualified but Means needed his own petition as well. He tried to submit it, but the Secretary of State says he was a few minutes too late.
7. New York: on July 31, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Mordue heard Fitzgerald v Berman, 1:02-cv-926. The issue is language on the voter registration form, which warns new voters that they can't vote in a party primary if they register as independents. Plaintiffs argue that this is misleading, since parties decide for themselves whether to let independents vote in their primary.
8. South Carolina: the United Citizens Party is about to file a lawsuit to get its gubernatorial candidate, Kevin Gray, on the ballot. The party nominates by convention and is ballot-qualified. A state law says candidates seeking the nomination of all parties (whether those parties nominate by primary or convention) must file a declaration of candidacy in March. The conventions need not be held until mid-August. Gray didn't know in March that he wanted to run for Governor, nor did the party know back then that it wanted to run a gubernatorial candidate. It will argue that there is no important state interest in requiring potential candidates for a convention party to file a declaration of candidacy so early in the year.
MICHIGAN PUTS TWO PARTIES ON BALLOT
On July 15, the Michigan Secretary of State ruled that the U.S. Taxpayers (Constitution) and Natural Law Parties will be on the ballot this year. Earlier this year, the legislature had eased the vote test, effective immediately. Those two parties did not meet the old vote test in November 2000, but they did meet the new vote test in that election. The ambiguity was whether to apply the new law to the November 2000 election results.
Since other states in the same situation have applied new, easier standards, to the facts of the most recent past election, Michigan was persuaded to do as well.
BAD ILLINOIS RULING
On July 15, the Illinois Board of Elections reversed itself and ruled that if a congressional or legislative district changes its boundaries, then any party which had qualified status in the old district, loses it, when the lines are redrawn.
The Libertarian Party polled over 5% in the 4th and 5th congressional districts in November 2000, so it became a qualified party (entitled to its own primary) in those two districts. But now that status has been eliminated, because there were boundary changes in those districts. The party has filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court to overturn the ruling. Hadraba v State Bd. of Elections, 02-ce-028.
In most states, the concept of a party being fully-qualified in just part of the state doesn't exist. Either a party is qualified for all office in the state, or it is not qualified for any. Connecticut also provides for district qualification of parties, and also eliminates such qualification when a district boundary changes. The Communist Party sued Connecticut on this same point in 1982, but lost.
Democrats are considering five opening dates for their 2004 national convention: July 19, July 26, August 2, August 30 and September 6. A decision is likely in November.
BOOK: DEMOCRACY'S MOMENT
Democracy's Moment, by Ronald Hayduk & Kevin Mattson. Paperback, 271 p. Rowman & Littlefield. $24.95.
The subtitle is "Reforming the American Political System for the 21st Century". Sixteen authors contributed articles about various problems with U.S. elections. Some of the articles are deeply philosophical; others are more nuts-and-bolts.
Generally, people who write on this topic tend to agree with each other. Therefore, all the book's authors favor better treatment for minor parties (of course, there are many chapters on subjects that don't directly relate to minor parties).
But there is no unanimity whatsoever, even for reform-minded people, on the topic of campaign finance. Therefore, the most intriguing chapter is the one on campaign finance, written by Mark Schmitt, former adviser to U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.
Schmitt favors partial public financing of campaigns. He formerly helped write Senator Bradley's campaign finance bills, which would have tried to outlaw all private money in elections. He now feels this "quarantine model" is futile, and he explains why.
The book contains a very helpful 22-page list of organizations working to improve U.S. elections, giving contact information for each.
ALASKA IRV VOTE
On August 27, Alaskans will decide whether to implement Instant Run-Off Voting for all elections (except Governor). The State has prepared a Voters Pamphlet, which contains pro and con arguments. The "pro" argument is signed by 5 of Alaska's 6 qualified parties (all but the Democrats). The "con" side is signed only by the League of Women Voters. To see the arguments, click here.
REVENUE FROM STATE INCOME TAX "CHECK-OFF"
Click Here for Chart
Every year, the eleven states mentioned above let taxpayers send a contribution to the political party of the taxpayer's choice. The chart above shows the amounts donated to each political party named on tax forms. The Ohio form only lets a taxpayer decide whether to contribute, but doesn't let him or her choose a party; the money is divided equally among parties which polled 20% for president or Governor at the last election. All the other states mentioned above allow a free choice of party (if the party is listed). North Carolina law says only parties with 1% of the voter registration should be listed. The Libertarian Party has never had registration that high, but it still got a small amount of money because it was erroneously listed on some tax forms.
The parties in the "Other" column are: Minnesota Independence Party (Governor Ventura's party), the Rhode Island Cool Moose Party, and the Independent American Party of Utah. The Rhode Island Green Party is a qualified party but wasn't listed on the tax forms because the "political party" definition in the tax law isn't the same as the definition in the election code.
OF STATES MAKING RESTRICTIVE CHANGES
Click Here for Chart
This chart shows when states made severe changes in ballot access restrictions for minor parties and independent candidates. "Severe" means the number of signatures doubled, or increased even more. For deadline changes, a "severe" change is one that made the deadline at least 45 days earlier than it had been. The chart shows that the worst period in history, for restrictive ballot access changes, was 1969-1972.
PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE
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This chart doesn't have room for one-state parties. However, the Marijuana Reform Party has 7,000 signatures in New York.
Parentheses means that a party has a statewide candidate on the ballot, but he or she doesn't have a party label.
Utah and Washington have no statewide races, so a party is "on" in those states if it has US House candidates.
OLD PARTIES VANISH FROM BALLOTS
This year's election will be the first even-year election since 1868 at which no Prohibition Party nominee is on the ballot for any public office. The party still exists, and still publishes a newsletter, but none of its members chose to run for any office this year.
Generally, the nation's oldest minor parties have been fading from ballots, even though they still exist. The Socialist Labor Party, which also continues to publish a monthly newspaper, has not had any candidates for public office since 1981. The Communist Party still publishes a weekly newspaper, but hasn't run any candidates under its own name since 1996.
The Socialist Workers Party, organized since 1938, will appear on the statewide ballot in only one state, Minnesota. The Socialist Party, organized since 1901, will also appear on the statewide ballot in only one state this year, New Jersey. This is the first election year since 1885 that no party with "socialist" in its name has attempted to place a candidate for Governor of New York on the ballot.
George Wallace organized a party in 1968, which was called "American" in about half the states, and "American Independent" in most of the other states. The only state units of this party which will appear on ballots this year are in California and Nevada (both of them are affiliated with the Constitution Party). 2002 is the first year since 1986 that no party with "American" in its name appears on the Utah ballot.
The only other parties on a statewide ballot this year that were in existence before 1970 are the Conservative and Liberal Parties of New York state.
GREEN PARTY CONVENTION
The Green Party held a national convention in Philadelphia July 18-21. 78 delegates representing 39 states attended. The convention was buoyed by news that the Tasmanian Green Party had elected four members of Parliament, up from one member previously.
LIBERTARIAN PARTY CONVENTION
The Libertarian Party held a national convention in Indianapolis July 3-7. The platform was amended to call for proportional representation and instant-runoff voting. Otto Guevara, a Libertarian Party member in Costa Rica's parliament, spoke strongly in favor of the change.
Three state units of the Constitution Party (Kansas, Montana and New Mexico) will lose their ballot-qualified status this year, because the party isn't running statewide candidates in those states. In Kansas, as soon as it became known that the party has no candidates this year, the Secretary of State converted all the registered members of the party to "independents", without even notifying them. Kansas is in the 10th circuit, and the 10th circuit has held that voters have a right to be registered in unqualified parties. It is possible that some members of the party will sue to restore their registrations.
Two state units of the Reform Party (Idaho and South Dakota) will lose their ballot-qualified status this year, because the party isn't running enough candidates in those states. Idaho only requires a party to run three candidates to remain on the ballot (it doesn't matter how few votes they poll), but the Reform Party is only running one candidate this year in Idaho.
U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATES
The United States House of Representatives has 435 members. This year, the approximate number of House candidates on the ballot for these nationally-organized parties will be: Libertarian 212; Green 68; Constitution 17; Natural Law 8; Reform 7; Socialist Workers 3; Socialist 3. These numbers are not final. Filing deadlines haven't passed in some states; also lawsuits now pending in Arkansas, Georgia and Illinois could increase these numbers for the Libertarian and Green Parties.